Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Check List Survivor

Last summer was hot, this winter was tough... even if that were not the case I always seem to find excuses for why a plant didn't survive in my garden. I think a lot of gardeners do that, like a botanical 'don't speak ill of the dead' mantra. But I probably see a lot more plant failure than most, you see the purpose of my garden is to try new plants and to see how they perform before I go designing them into client's gardens. A veritable testing ground for new plant cultivars and varieties, and as with all tests I do expect a certain number of failures.

The hale and hardy performers, with many 'checks' from the list.
But I digress, what I really wanted to tell you about was a success, an unlikely survivor. A clematis with huge blooms set off by unusual stamen, the sort of plant which produces one or two "Wow" blooms rather than relying on volume to attract attention. In essence, not my normal plant. Because I am trying plants for clients, I usually look for plants which provide more than one interesting feature. And actually I have a kind of check list, and the best plants fulfill a few items on my landscape check list - for instance 1) Multi season interest 2) Extended bloom time 3) Insect and disease resistant - and so on. This little treasure just had really cool blossoms, and absolutely nothing else. So, I planted it anyway. That was two years ago. The first year, not much happened. The clematis leafed out, but didn't grow that tall, and no blooms. Last year, remember I mentioned it was hot? Well Clematis don't really like heat, so it didn't do much. I don't even remembering it getting as tall as the previous year, and there were certainly no blooms. At that point, I started to remember why I have the check list, what does this plant do other than bloom? Oh right, nothing.

And then this spring, as I was weeding away along the fence, I looked but didn't see any sign of the bloom-less beauty. Another failure I thought, and made a note to cross it off 'the list'.
So yesterday (You know this is going to have a happy ending - right?), I am weeding away in my Monarda, and see this:
Clematis 'Crystal Fountain'
Out of no-where, no higher than my Monarda and pointing right up to the sky so you had to be in the bed to find it. Look at the color, and the very cool, fluffy stamen. Beautiful, isn't it.  Sometimes I guess that is the only check you need.